If you’ve noticed patchy or thinning spots on your scalp or a surplus of hair strands on your hairbrush or in the shower, you’re not alone. More than half of all women will experience noticeable hair loss, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In order to put a stop to shedding, though, you have to figure out the root of the problem. “Hair loss is not a diagnosis,” says Yolanda Lenzy, M.D., M.P.H.,board-certified dermatologist and licensed cosmetologist in Chicopee, Massachusetts. “Hair loss is a symptom. Once you get a specific diagnosis, then you can know the causes associated with that diagnosis.”
For starters, know that the term “alopecia” refers to all kinds of hair loss. There are two main types of alopecia, and then a variety of forms of hair loss within those two categories. In cases of non-scarring or temporary hair loss, the missing hair will eventually grow back. With scarring or permanent hair loss, permanent damage is done to the hair follicles so they won’t grow back. “With scarring hair loss, the goal is not for it to grow back, but to stop the progression,” says Dr. Lenzy. Below, are seven different kinds of alopecia —knowing which one you’re suffering from will help determine the proper treatment.